The WYSIWYG Trump Presidency
Trump supporters have cited Trump’s transparency as one reason why they are so enthusiastic about him. They claim he is plain spoken and they know just where he stands on issues. The “lying media” cannot be believed when it comes to reporting on Trump according to his supporters. Facts mean nothing, and Trump himself famously boasted that he could shoot somebody and it wouldn’t affect his support. They are frustrated with the media and those who just don’t see how great Trump is the way they do. Trump is an outsider who will drain the swamp, they say.
I have to agree with his fans on one thing. What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) when it comes to Donald Trump. And that is exactly why he scares me. He doesn’t seem to be constrained by anything, including reality. His personality, faults and all, are on display for all to observe. But unfortunately, “there are none so blind as those who will not see.” There are many studies that have been conducted and fancy terms created by psychologists and sociologists to describe the very human phenomena of ignoring and even attacking data that is contrary to our preconceived notions about the world and people in it. But scientists and fact checkers are members of the elite and are to be ignored according to Trumpists.
Donald Trump has zero government experience. In spite of common belief, running a corporation has few transferable skills to a government job. It’s pretty hard to drain a swamp when you’ve lived your whole life on a mountain top and have never seen, let alone wrestled, an alligator. Herbert Hoover is the last government neophyte/ successful businessman to be elected president. Look how well that turned out. Trump’s only transferable skill to government is that he is a master salesman. Unfortunately, his most successful product is himself. That’s not just my opinion, Trump has proclaimed that fact many times. In fact, he has valued his name in court documents as worth one billion dollars. But his failed businesses, legal problems, and bankruptcies prove that salesmanship is his primary skill. Trumpists are thrilled that he hasn’t changed at all since getting elected. It is a measure of how desperate the increasing wealth gap has made the working class in America that so many people continue to be excited by amateur hour in the White House. America has serious economic issues, and the “American Dream” has never been more elusive. But the White House still lacks concrete proposals to move the economy forward other than destroying work place safety and environmental regulations.
The thing that scares me about this president the most is his unwillingness/inability (there’s a factual case that can be made for both) to read. He insists on getting his information from television rather than from official briefing papers. Exhibit A is his faux pas concerning Sweden. In a campaign appearance in Florida, he referenced terrorist problems in Sweden that do not exist and were based on misinformation that he misinterpreted while watching his favorite news station. When confronted about these “alternative facts” (something that seldom occurs), Trump says he heard them or somebody told him whatever bovine material he is selling. He never says, “I read them in an intelligence briefing.”
I realize that many people get all of their news from TV or social media. But both are poor sources of accurate information. Television shows are too brief, biased, and ratings driven to provide any depth needed for understanding. And social media is too easily high-jacked by partisan hacks and well-intentioned but completely clueless amateurs. I expect my president to read important stuff. Stuff assembled by laws and a bureaucracy of experts that I help pay for. In any government, there is a huge gap between gaining political power and using it. Other than signing executive orders, which either had negligible impact or were prima fascia illegal, Trump has done little to assemble, let alone use, the levers of power. No modern administration has been this far behind in assembling a management team as Trump is at this time.
The blame can’t be laid at the feet of the Democrats either. It is not obstructionism but lack of direction that has hindered administration hiring, much of which is not subject to Congressional approval (almost 2000 at this point). Trump loves the spotlight. He loves adoring crowds. He’s fine with all of the drama that his words/tweets/actions/inaction create. As he puts it and Les Moonves of CBS confirmed, DJT is ratings gold. He loves conflict and throwing his weight and opinion around. But this is one member of the public who is tired of all the drama. The 2016 campaign was never-ending and I want government to shut up, do its job, and let me do mine. Instead I am subjected to whatever temper tantrum Trump is tweeting about Nordstrom, Celebrity Apprentice, etc. Why is this nonsense nonstop news?
Sure, I could just ignore it like many people do. But as a citizen, I take my duty to be well-informed seriously. I spend part of every day trying to figure out what I can know for certain and what knowledge I used to take for granted is now null and void. I wish the president would do the same.